During cardiac catheterization, a doctor inserts a long, thin, flexible tube, called a catheter, into the body. The catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and is guided toward the heart. The procedure allows the doctor to study how well your heart pumps blood and to examine the coronary arteries and heart valves.
Cardiac catheterization provides more accurate and detailed information about how well your heart is working than other diagnostic tests. It can help assist in choosing the best treatment for you.
A cardiac catheterization may be done for one or more of the following reasons:
- evaluate or confirm coronary heart disease (patients with chest pain or abnormal stress test)
- determine whether treatment can help a patient diagnosed with coronary heart disease
- to see how well blood flows through the coronary arteries after angioplasty or bypass surgery
- after a heart attack, to find out how severely the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked
- to evaluate the cause of heart failure
- to determine if there is significant heart valve disease that might require surgery
- to determine whether there is a congenital heart defect and evaluate how severe it is